"Evolution of a Predator" (2/2)

From: Shawn Wolski <n5una_at_MAIL.UTEXAS.EDU>
Date: Thu, 23 Mar 1995 04:06:09 -0600

A predator must be swift and agile...

        About three minutes later, David compiled all the information
he could find regarding faster-than-light travel. According to
the library data, the theoretical and practical principles had
been under extensive study for a period of twenty years. During
the Great War, the world's prime physicists performed extensive
research on the prospect of FTL propulsion. The work was funded
by many of the governments on Mobius, in the hopes that some
people would survive by leaving the planet for a new home if
Mobius was destroyed. The day never came, but the research
continued on for two years after the war had ceased. After that
time, the research had been terminated. No specification of the
reason, but David knew the answer.
        The basic aspects of a FTL apparatus (informally dubbed "warp
drive") had many advantages to it. It allowed a ship to travel
faster than c; while preventing the total, simultaneous
consumption of the two selected power reactants: matter and
antimatter. The premise involved controlled alternations in
phase between "realspace" and "warpspace" for no longer than a
very short span in time, insuring that the ship would never be
at c. If the ship did come to the speed of light under a warp
field, the ship would create a space/time distortion, appearing
in all points in the universe.
        Countless systems were involved to insure that the ship would
operate without endangering itself and its crew. An integrated
computer controlled many of the ship's functions, either
autonomously or with crew assistance on the critical systems.
Navigational deflectors protected the ship from lethal
interstellar particle drag, both in sublight and warp space.
Low-level shielding safeguarded the crew and delicate hardware
from the radiation in space. These and many other aspects made
the ship like a living organism.
        There were severe flaws in the technology that David wished to
emulate. For one, warp engine engagement inside a significant
gravity field was detrimental to both the ship and the object.
If a ship did so in the gravity environment of a planet, the
planet and ship would be destroyed. Another problem involved
the sheer volume of the drive mechanism itself. Unless David
dramatically grew to a gargantuan size, utilization of such a
propulsive device would be impossible for him to personally
implement. In short, he needed another method based on the
interstellar warp drive, something that would produce a similar
result but would be safe and of the right volume. Then the
gravity of the situation dawned on him. Literally.
        David started the physics program in the computer, then entered
complex equations as he double- and triple-checked them in his
cognitive center, contemplating the use of the gravity field
generated by a planet to provide both the warp reactants and
permit secure FTL travel without creating unnecessary danger to
himself and Mobius. Five seconds later, the proposed warp drive
plus the necessary protection hardware and power feeds came
together on the video display. He revised and recalculated the
basic design for another fifteen seconds, allowing for the
interaction of his body motion and its effect on the warp field.
 The end result: a dynamic geometry graviton warp drive.
        Satisfied with the product, David downloaded the required
information via his optical sensors to his growth protocol
circuitry. He and his relative both viewed the visible
alterations that David made on his body. The task began first
inside his tails. They deflated in volume about 20%, regaining
their original size, as the millions of interconnected computers
in his compuorganic brain calculated and recalculated the final
required mass/volume ratio for the warp nacelles and his organic
muscles. Two blue slits formed on each tail, running parallel
to the tail's axis, for about 75% of each tail's length. The
tails retained their flexibility, while acting as rotors and
warp nacelles, effectively designating (by design) the tails as
rotor/nacelles. After the external modifications, David grew
the internal warp drive and power feeds to the rest of his body,
plus an antigraviton generator (for the warp drive reaction
chamber and navigational deflector).
        Beside the tail bases, David added two vent slits for his
impulse drive. This would allow him to maintain the ability to
utilize realspace velocities up to c, should the situation
permit or require him to do so. He then followed up with the
internal construction of six micrograviton generators (non-warp
propulsive), to provide power, realspace travel, and graviton
generation for uses other than propulsion (in the event that
another of his upgrades would require it).
        In his chest area, David reallocated space to his organic and
sensor components to allow space for the navigational deflector.
 It lay under his skin, unexposed compared to the external
evidence of the impulse vents and warp nacelle slits.
Microvents formed around the navigational deflector emitter,
permitting unhindered access for gravitons to the G/AG warp
reaction chamber.
        "Uh, David," Tails inquired, "you're not going out like that,
are you?" He indicated the exposed areas on his tails and
        "No, I'm not about to," he replied to his vulpine familiar.
"This is merely for the time when the warp or impulse drives
will be in use. They will be concealed when they are not." As
if to prove the point, flaps of protective metal shell covered
with organic overlay veiled the evidence. "Now for the
evaluation phase. I believe that the Great Plains will be
sufficient for the experiment."

        After surveying the Great Plains near the Great Forest, David
found a treeless area which would allow him to engage his warp
drive without the risk of destroying foliage. Motioning to
Tails to maintain a discreet distance, he began the warp
engagement procedure. Setting his tails parallel to the ground
and bracing himself for the dramatic change in velocity, he felt
the differential graviton field increase in strength...
        And displace him from the ground. 'Very well, then,' he
thought to himself, 'I will have to engage the warp drive while
in flight.' He calculated what the final radius of the warp
field would be so that he could format a baseline for minimum
height above ground. The projected result was two meters, so
for safety purposes, he preset the minimum height for 2.5 m and
engaged the NOE (Nap of the Earth) dynamic subroutine. While he
was correcting his required delta-h from the ground, he
monitored the audio level generated from his nacelles. 'They
are at 90% of maximum power for warp one insertion, so the
maximum level should be thirty decibels,' he considered.
Excellent, since that indicated that the noise reduction
programs responsible for reshaping the graviton warp field were
performing perfectly. With a five decibel increase from the
transition from realspace into warp, that meant the total
emitted detectable audio would be 35 dB. One flash of blue
light from the nacelles, and he was somewhere else.
        He circled Mobius 15,000 times in less than a second, and then
returned to his position of origin. "Tails," he called to his
brother, "how audible was that?"
        "I couldn't really hear it," he answered. "It was almost like
you didn't use it. I could barely hear the blast right before
you took off." He had confirmed David's analysis of the noise
reduction software.
        "Fantastic. Now for the other experiments. On to weapons

* * *

...must be able to strike hard...

        On a granite rock, located on the cliff surrounding much of
Knothole, were a set of twenty peaceful tin cans. With target
markers painted on them. A beam of intensely focused energy
flashed to each can, striking in the center of each target
marker. The violated metal vaporized and sheared, each can was
forced to the ground by the persuasion of the energy beam.
        "All right, David!" Tails exclaimed after the carnage had taken
its course on the entire target set. "You hit them perfectly.
It works!" Looking toward David quizzically, he inquired, "What
exactly is it?"
        "This," David returned, indicating the finger responsible for
the outburst of radiation, "is a phaser emitter. And what you
saw impact those tin cans was phaser energy."
        "Isn't that like a laser?" his brother wondered.
        "Somewhat similar," the other responded, "but much more
powerful than a laser. Barring the complex technical terms,
what makes a phaser different from a laser, is that a phaser
undergoes a phase transition before it is emitted from a source;
unlike a laser, which is merely generated and fired. The phase
alteration creates a much more energetic energy beam than a
laser of identical power."
        A noise came from Tails' abdomen. "Ooops, excuse me. I guess
I'm kinda hungry." Looking at his watch, the time was 1230
        "I would tend to agree with you, Tails," David consented. "I
could conceivably continue without further food intake until
approximately 2200 hours; however, since my new organic and
computer systems are still attempting to adapt to the new
components and energy demands, I could stand to consume
something significant."
        The vulpines flew off toward Knothole and nourishment, after
bagging the now-mutilated cans and locating the recycling
container for tin.

* * *

...but most of all, must never underestimate the prey.

        David experimented with the graviton focusing software (for
non-propulsive events), attempting to find a use for the reserve
energy he had in the micrograviton generators. As he paced by
the cliff by himself, a twenty-ton sandstone slab somehow
separated from the rest of its bed. David saw the steadily
increasing darkness surrounding him, looked up to view the rock
which was accelerating from the gravity pull...
        And it was deflected away from him about two meters above,
causing a momentary flash of Cerenkov radiation as the induced
spatial distortion difference between the shield and the rock
dissipated. Belatedly pondering the significance of utilizing a
graviton repulsor-based shield, he added the permanent emitter
components for dispersing the graviton field. Without it, he
would have most certainly at least been severely injured, if not
perpetually deactivated.

        Later, David thought of how to utilize the excess metal from
the reconstruction in his skeletal frame. His thoughts traveled
back to something he saw earlier in the day, something regarding
a particular fish that used part of its endoskeleton to defend
itself. He tried diffusing the excess metal into his skin and
hair. Twenty seconds later, a perfected subroutine for armor
had been written. David was prepared to defend himself as well
as attack.

* * *

        Back in their hut at 2300 hours, David and Tails found
themselves depleted, but satisfied from the past day. Today had
turned out to be a very productive one for David, and his
brother and comrade was pleased to see that David had taken a
turn for the better. Not too long ago, the black and gray
vulpine was depressed, due to the system hardware/software
failures that he had little or no control over. Now, he was in
control of an innovative body that he designed, with the added
security that he could continue to add new components to it.
        "Boy," Tails said, yawning, "it's really been a long day."
        "Yes, that it has," his significant other concurred. "Before I
forget, I need to reinitialize my integrated system, to allow my
DNA to have the required data to repair or replace the
components should the requirement arise."
        "OK, David," his red companion responded, "I'll close my eyes
for this, since I'm about ready to drop dead anyway," he said,
chuckling. He climbed up into his bed, covered himself, and
positioned himself away from David.
        David then exploded in a flash of light, permeating some of the
darkness outside, and then returned to his default luminosity as
the DNA restructured and configured itself. With a sudden wave
of dizziness, he fell into his bed, knowing that there would be
many more projects to attend to. As for now, they would have to
be done...tomorrow.

Shawn Wolski, N5UNA

An Indoctrinated Sonic T. Hedgehog Story Author

"But I guess some things are better left in the past."
-Sally, quote from "The Temporal Syndrome"


Received on Thu Mar 23 1995 - 05:00:15 PST

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